1. Happy Hour Changing
A lot of you all might be familiar with Rice N Roll's happy hour that runs on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Same time. However the original happy hour special has been half off all rolls. To make things easier for the staff and production, it will be changed to buy two rolls, get one free. If you do the math on say three rolls, it is virtually the same, but this is much easier on the kitchen staff. No official word on when this change is happening, but it is something to think about.
2. Family Over Everything
There are plenty of restaurants in the area that are run by restaurant groups including Hospitality Democracy which operates the likes of Holey Moley Doughnuts, Blue Bat And Tequilaria and Smoke Shack. Rice N Roll is operated by three siblings and their cousin and head chef, Tony. Other customers and food bloggers have told me about the exceptional hospitality they have experienced at this spot, and mine was no different. While I was able to eat at Rice N Roll when it was closed and was the only party eating, their attention to detail was spectacular and the camaraderie between staff members was palpable.
3. New Digs in Tosa Soon
They are opening up a new restaurant in Wauwatosa in February. While the news surrounding the name and concept has yet to be decided, those on the west side of Milwaukee will be thankful for a similar space to dine. I'll let you all know when word is out on name and restaurant concept!
4. Vegan and Gluten-Free Friendly
As you might have noticed in my Instagram post, Rice N Roll has a plethora of plant-based options to try, and it has been that way since July 2018. From their basil thai fried rice with tofu and veggies to their grass noodle stir fry, there are thai and sushi options that are legit for vegans. I tried around six items during my visit, and they are stellar. Be sure to mention your dietary restrictions, and Rice N Roll can easily accommodate you! Thai iced tea with soy milk? Check. Gluten free and vegan soy sauce with stir fry? You got it!
5. They have a new vegan sushi roll that has yet to be named!
One roll I ate during my visit was wrapped in white rice with a boatload of vegetables and topped with hash browns! The texture combination was satisfying in every way and matched the flavors that came from this roll. As for the name, I was experimenting with names while eating, but nothing worth writing about came to me. Have a name? DM me on IG !
It was a lazy Saturday a couple weeks ago. My plant-based friend Kristin and I were starving and looking for a place to eat in town. I did not have many places in mind, as there are only so many spots that serve truly vegan brunch. It was a little past noon so lunch was on Kristin's mind and lucky for us, she had just been to Blue Bat a week before and raved about it. To be honest, I thought she was exaggerating about the food and her experience, which I told her after discussing the possibility of going to Blue Bat. Don't think I'm gossiping on this blog folks. Hearing and more importantly, seeing, a moroccan cauliflower dish with jasmine rice, tahini cream, golden raisins and much more appear on my phone intrigued me. A lot. I could not guess what this place was when she sent me this photo, but turns out I was in for a real treat from start to finish.
Hospitality Democracy dons well-known restaurants that you may know. Smoke Shack, Holey Moley, Swig, AJ Bombers, to name a few. As you might have figured given the mention, Blue Bat is the newest addition to Hospitality Democracy's already stacked superteam. Come to think of it, this spot is a perfect addition, because tacos and tequila were not really in this restaurant group's arsenal. But now it is. This spot located on 249 N Water St in the Historic Third Ward is here to stay and is primed to make a lot of noise in the restaurant game around Milwaukee.
This spot screams trendy when you walk in, especially with a sign that reads "Good Times." The ceilings were pretty high, and there was a lot of room in this place. Blue Bat also has a downstairs bar with additional seating and a small patio area. Given that this restaurant is next to the Milwaukee River, the location is prime for Third Ward voyeurs and enthusiasts. This spot has extremely clean lines, wooden tables and a very modern aesthetic. There were a lot of windows around this venue, opening it up even more and adding a lot of natural light. I really enjoyed the look of this spot, and hoped I would enjoy the food just as much.
Kristin and I surveyed the menu and the fried brussel sprouts caught my eye as she discussed it. I don't even eat brussel sprouts but I'm usually game for anything fried. It also came with pecans, a spicy aioli and a few other toppings. Per usual, the cheese was eliminated from this dish and was an easy change. These brussel sprouts, more on the salty side, paired PERFECTLY with the aioli. I almost fell out as I ate these veggies. Yes, they were fried but who cares. they were crisp to a perfection and an easy starter dish. We also ordered their bag o' chips with seasonal salsa. You can also get guacamole with the homemade, in-house tortilla chips that legit come in a brown paper bag. I thought it was funny how literal the menu listing was for these chips. This salsa combination (comes in two giants bowls) was also top notch. The chips were hot and fresh, and the salsas were plentiful for two people. This is important because salsa goes fast, and some places like to skimp on this foodie favorite. These two dishes exceeded my expectations that had been somewhat influenced by Kristin's prior review on Blue Bat. I was happy and ready for the cauliflower dish, especially since I make it a ton.
Huge side note: They have over 160 tequila flavors to choose from and can come as a hawaiian ice or another kind popular option. As you all know, I don't drink much but wanted to mention that since their name includes tequila and is somewhat of a calling card for them.
The main menu consists of tacos, bowls and other worldly-inspired eats that are not your typical mexican foods. While there are some staples there, they seem to do a good job of mixing up spices and options. I do like how you can turn a taco option into a burrito bowl for $15. These bowls are legit, as I had o take my food home. That never happens with me even when I eat a lot of other food so this is saying a lot. The moroccan cauliflower dish was highly anticipated and it is easily, easily a top 5 dish that I have ever had in Milwaukee. Not even being dramatic either. It came out piping hot and was fresh in every way. The veggies were visibly pan-roasted versus thrown on a hot oily skillet for two minutes. the attention to detail was phenomenal, as the dollops of tahini cream even worked great, and I am not a huge fan of tahini.
The toasted almonds, raisins, spices, onions, jasmine rice with this cauliflower changed me. There was so much flavor, a lot of ingredients to enjoy and it was just such a different experience unlike I have had before. That dish could have easily been a mexican-inspired cauliflower dish, but it was not in the slightest. The cauliflower was just tender enough where you can bite into it without it being too tough. Perfect. Kristin chose the mushroom bowl that came with rice, peppers, onions and similar fixings as my bowl. She admitted that the cauliflower bowl was better and would get that again next time. All of this food came to $46 total, and this kind of steal should be illegal. I had dinner that night too. I was so full, but not to a point where I felt sick. It was more so, I got my money's worth through the portion sizes which are not small whatsoever, taste was pheneonal and variety of options to try in the run long. Alex, our server, seemed to juggle our table with others as it began to pick up during the busy afternoon lunch shift. He was very attentive, and was well informed about all of the drinks and food options and questions.
I will be back soon with my fan boy hat on looking to chown down on some eats in Blue Bat and Tequilaria. An encore performance is on the horizon, and I hope you get a chance to experience a fresh, fun spot in Milwaukee's Third Ward like I did. Hats off to Blue Bat!
Beatrix Foods, started by Chef Melanie Manuel, was an extremely popular vegan pop-up for the past year. As many of you might know, she has turned her pop-up success into a full-service restaurant--Celesta. Lucky for me, I was invited to a VIP soft opening yesterday at her new restaurant that is located on 1978 N. Farwell Avenue on Milwaukee's east side. My foodie friend Colleen, who has also eaten at Melanie's pop-ups, accompanied me and we both were excited about setting foot in Celesta.
I knew what I was getting into when I set my reservation. Good people, good service and a chance to congratulate Melanie and visit her new spot. I also knew the food would be good because I had the privilege to help taste test some of her future menu offerings. What I did not know is how this spot would look. Clear chairs, white walls and tables with a touch of navy and tan, seat pillows and honeycomb wall designs spoke to me in a serene way. Light bulb fixtures weren't just any ordinary light arrangement. They were different. This spot wasn't trying to be just upscale, modern or cozy. It was a combination of all three, and the food matched the aura with a touch of variety. Quick note: this spot seats maybe 20 people, but a patio is in the works so stay tuned on their instagram.
The food from above ranged from comfort to healthy, and their menu has a wide range of items to devour. Small plates and shareables are around $8 bucks, and options like their asian mushroom tartine was packed with flavor. I liked the cucumber, as it was fresh and a nice contrast with the mushroom tartine. It was a tad bit spicy, so for anyone who does not have a liking for the hots, be on the lookout for that or ask in advance. The presentation of dishes was also pleasant and stands out on the white plating they use.
The vegan arancini crispy lemon risotto with a bright tomato sauce (which we GLADLY dunked, slathered and covered on this arancini) was perfection, The outer crust was lightly breaded, and it was prime. Colleen and I both appreciated the lemon and risotto and its ability to stand out amongst the many flavors in this dish. There were also other small plates including a cauliflower dish and lima fries, which we were told have already been a big hit with customers.
Entrees range from chickpea and kale caesar salads to a soul food option that comes with baked beans, coleslaw and vegan mac and cheese. For dinner on this night, I went with the Korean tacos ($12) that came with fried tempeh, kimchi, gochujang slaw with togarashi corn and miso butter. I loved the flavor of the taco, as it was something I had not experienced before in a traditional taco kind of way. I will say I wish it was more of the hot sauce or another kind of sauce on the taco since the doubled corn tortillas (street style, baby) and fried tempeh are on the drier side. Regardless, the flavors were present when I ate this dish, and I wasn't sleep. This option is also gluten free! When I say that the corn on the cob was the best corn I have ever had in my life, I'm not joking. The miso butter lathered this corn perfectly and had me in vegan heaven. But actually. Colleen went with community bowl (around $10) that came packed with quinoa, smokey tempeh, onions, summer squash and sesame chili drizzle. She was satisfied with her meal as well and thought everything had a lot of flavor. The bowl was a nice size too, and there was not any skimping going on at this spot.
I should mention that prices here are very reasonable. We each got a drink, at around $7-$9, shared two appetizers, got an entree AND shared a key lime pie for $33 apiece. Not to shame Strange Town, but I would have left paying a cool $45-50 and STILL been hungry. I've done it before. That's not what I'm looking for in a meal when I spend that much money. I know there are folks out there who can spend $40 at a more upscale, higher-priced place, but not me. I am still fresh out of school, living on my own, and $30 is a lot of money to me. Honestly, it might always be but that's a story for myfuture personal finance blog/voice inside of me. Celesta will also serve deli sandwiches and other to-go options once they get everything settled with the day-to-day operations of the restaurant. I can see this place doing well in that category too, as people sometimes like to have that option of grab and go. Their hours are a bit scattered so call ahead at 414-231-3030 if you want to schedule a reservation. I definitely plan to schedule a lot of those in the near future. Or I might walk in the spot without one because I am the mayor, as I instantly knew multiple people when I walked in and greeted everyone like I was at a parade or VIP event. (Colleen said I was a mayor, not me!) Let's bring the focus back to Celesta though because she's a star in the making and I'm excited to watch her shine.